UK academic CHARGED with spying on UAE
Matthew Hedges, 31, has been officially charged with spying for the UK government in the United Arab Emirates.
The Durham PhD student has reportedly been held in solitary confinement for the last five months in Abu Dhabi.
He was seized at Dubai airport in May as he attempted to leave the country following a two-week research trip for his doctoral thesis on Emirati and security and foreign policies after the Arab Spring.
In a statement released yesterday, the UAE authorities said: "The attorney general of United Arab Emirates confirmed today that Matthew Hedges, a British citizen, has been charged with spying for and on behalf of a foreign state, jeopardizing the military, economy and political security of the UAE."
A spokesperson for the family suggested the foreign state in question was the UK government.
Hedges attended his first hearing last week. The trial has been adjourned until later this month.
His wife, Daniela Tejada, who was present at the court session, said:
“The entire hearing was in Arabic, with only the questions directed at Matt being translated into English. It has now been confirmed to us that Matt was told he was being charged with gathering information and sharing it with a foreign agency – the UK government.”
She called on British authorities to do more to intervene in her husband’s case, telling the BBC:
"I no longer know what to do to get Matt out of prison in the UAE"
"I am calling on the UK government to clarify publicly that Matt is innocent of the charges and that there have been many falsehoods said about him.
"It is the duty of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to protect their citizens abroad.
"This horrifying situation has been going on for far too long."
Tejada said that her husband had not received adequate medical care during his time in solitary confinement and had only been permitted two consular visits.
The UK Foreign Office have said they are providing support to Hedges, while the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is said to have raised his case personally with his Emirati counterpart.